8 Ways to Drastically Improve Your Email Marketing Subject Lines

woman reading email on phone

The subject line is arguably the most important element of a marketing email — 33 percent of people decide whether or not to open a message based on it alone.

To get more of your already email-deluged customers to open up your campaigns, your subject line has to pack a punch. Here are eight ways to make your marketing email subject lines more powerful.

Make them short.
Your subject lines should be extremely concise, ideally 50 characters or fewer. In fact, an analysis of over 40 million emails showed that subject lines with three or four words generated the most responses.

Why the need for brevity? Because 40 percent of email is now opened on mobile first. And shorter subject lines display better on mobile devices.

If you’re finding it difficult to whittle things down, take a scalpel to those extraneous words. The word “newsletter,” for example, is probably unnecessary. Actually, a study from Adestra found that open rates for email with “newsletter” in the subject line were 18.7 percent lower.

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Segment your list.
A Direct Marketing Association study found that segmented and targeted email generated 58 percent of all the revenue for the marketers surveyed. That’s because one subject line message likely resonates more with a certain segment of your list (like your regulars) over another (like people who haven’t been by in a while).

So tailor your messages appropriately. Repeat customers may be more apt to open a VIP event invitation, and lapsed customers may be more intrigued by a massive promotion.

It’s easy to segment your lists in Square’s email marketing software. In fact, the work is already done for you. Because it’s hooked up to your Square POS, the tool already knows who your regular, casual, and lapsed customers are and automatically puts them into the appropriate list buckets. All you have to do is select the group of people you want to target with your email when you’re deploying the campaign.

Use action-oriented verbs.
Subject lines that start with actionable verbs tend to be more enticing. They also help with creating that sense of urgency. Use “Get your free coffee” over “Coffee offer.”

Tease what’s inside.
Let your customer know exactly what is inside the email. For example, if you’re sending your repeat customers a special deal as a token of appreciation, something like “Your discount awaits!” is more enticing than “Thank you for your loyalty.”

Use numbers.
Take a page from listicle-heavy sites like Buzzfeed and use numbers in your subject lines. If you’re a boutique promoting your latest piece of content, you could use something like “7 Easy Ways to Update Your Spring Look” rather than “Spring Lookbook.”

Create a sense of urgency.
People jump on those “act fast” messages, especially for sales and special promotions. Subject lines that create this sense of urgency yield a 22-percent bump in open rates, according to Hubspot.

Flash sale campaigns, with subject lines like “Today only” or “12-hour giveaway” are a great way to do this. Remember to be specific about the time window. More vague messages like “Act fast!” don’t perform as well.

Give the VIP treatment.
Your regular customers are your bread and butter, so create campaigns that make them feel special. When people feel appreciated and part of a community, they’re more willing to stay loyal to your business. Invite them to private events, or offer first access to a coveted product line. Use phrases like “For our VIP customers only” or “Just for you.”

Pose a question.
You need to compel people to click. Asking a question that resonates with your audience is a great way to get them to open your email. For example, if you’re promoting a blog post about pasta-making techniques, try something like “Are you making pasta wrong?”

With any subject line strategy you use, remember to test, test, test and then tweak, tweak, tweak. It’s easy to do that in Square Email Marketing, which provides robust statistics about which types of campaigns and subject lines performed the best.

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